The more you know: Is medical cannabis the answer to the NFL’s ongoing CTE problem?

Back in May 2018, I attended the NFL & Medical Cannabis Conference in Miami. While majority of fans are focused on the entertainment aspect of the beloved game, others, like myself are deeply concerned about how the NFL currently has a major ongoing problem of CTE. CTE, an antonym for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Once CTE takes over, a protein known as Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain with anuncompromisable mission to kill brain cells. Concussions have a direct correlation to theformation of CTE, making the issue a pressing matter for NFL players and athletes in other contact sports.

To date, CTE has only been formally diagnosed during autopsies. However, effects tied to aneventual CTE diagnosis include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, impulse controlproblems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, Parkinsonism, and eventually progressive dementia. These symptoms often begin years, or even decades, after the last braintrauma occurred.

As spectators and supporters, we see super star athletes performing at extreme levels but wedon’t see behind the scenes. We do not see our favorite players lining up for a Toradol shot intheir booty. We don’t see federal drug laws being broken to keep players on the field. There is alawsuit alleging that NFL teams give away pain killers recklessly. If proven true to any extent, this creates a dishonest relationship between an athlete’s body and the game, and in turn, alsoperpetuates an unrealistic view from the stadium seats, full of expectations that could beconsidered unhealthy and potentially dangerous to those giving their all on the field. We cannotsit back and be silent when it comes to exposing, evaluating and healing these detrimentalpatterns and relationships.

All too often, an athlete could get severely injured in a game, fed painkillers and sent back toplay when his injury needed to be attended to then and there to prevent long term issues. Howare we not providing better and healthier alternatives for the athletes who take over the nation’s Sundays? Even our government has put a patent on CBD being a neuroprotectant.

Neuroprotectivity is what these athletes need. We need to be politically active; for all athletes’sake and for the future of the game. Not to mention, we must protect our children, as there arecurrently 3 million youth football players.

During my time at the NFL & Medical Cannabis Conference, these issues and possible solution were brought to light, further reinforcing how crucial taking time to educate others truly is. It is fully possible to reduce the dishonest relationship between an athlete’s body and the game, as well as evaluate the damaging role opioids play and see how and why cannabis is a better alternative for healing. As an advocate and fan of both the cannabis industry and the NFL, I hope we can work together to ensure a healthier, safer and brighter future for the game and those who dedicate their lives to making it one of the most influential sports in history and culture alike.